Former UFC middleweight world champion Robert Whittaker, who is set to face Paulo Costa at UFC 298, believes he underestimated the hunger of Dricus du Plessis in their previous fight, but is confident of a better performance in the future, and aims to bounce back from his recent losses in emphatic fashion.
Robert Whittaker’s stepping into UFC 298. His last fight? A stoppage loss to the current middleweight champ, Dricus du Plessis. Not his finest hour, sure, but he learned a thing or two. Confidence, for one. He’s sure he can take du Plessis down next time.
Next up, he’s facing Paulo Costa. It’s the co-main event of UFC’s next pay-per-view card on Feb. 17 in Anaheim, Calif. Whittaker, a former UFC middleweight world champ, admits he didn’t respect du Plessis’s drive enough in their last fight.
“Dricus is a hungry guy,” Whittaker said at the UFC 298 pre-fight press conference in Sydney. “I think I underestimated that.” He still believes he’s the better fighter, though. But he knows now that he needs to match that hunger.
It’s been a tough time for Whittaker. He’s entering the octagon after losing two of his last three fights. One of those losses was a title fight decision to Israel Adesanya at UFC 271 in February 2022. But he did score a decisive win over Marvin Vettori at UFC Paris seven months later.
Whittaker and Costa have been matched up twice before. The first time was a year ago at UFC 284. The fight didn’t get finalized in time, but Whittaker’s ready for it now. He’s eager to bounce back and plans to do it in style.
“It is what it is,” Whittaker said. “The best way to make amends is to get back on the horse.” He knows the only way to prove everyone wrong is to notch a win.
The du Plessis fight was a wake-up call for him. He and his team went back to the gym, reevaluated, and made some changes. “I’m coming into this fight hungrier than ever,” he said. “I’ve been really focused on trying to bring that animal back.”
Whittaker’s not just looking to win this fight. He’s looking to hurt Costa. “I think that mentality is a powerful thing to have,” he said.